McMinnville officials have voted to borrow $2 million for street projects. Work could begin in August and continue until mid-October.
A joint meeting of the Street and Sanitation Committee and the Finance Committee ended with a unanimous vote by Vice Mayor Everett Brock and Aldermen Billy Wood, Junior Medley and Jimmy Haley to take out a variable rate loan. Alderman Clair Cochran was absent.
The funds will be used to begin working on the list of 51 streets presented to the board April 12 by McMinnville Public Works. By the city’s estimate, it will cost $2.1 million to complete the list.
“I’m ready to go on the 51 streets,” said Alderman Junior Medley. “Having a nice street is one of the benefits of living in the city. Some residents have done without that benefit long enough.”
Presented along with the paving list was a city-owned parking lot paving list that added an additional $645,000 to the total. All the downtown lots would be paved, as well as the McMinnville Fire Station 1 parking lot and those at McMinnville Civic Center.
“I would rather concentrate on streets and not parking lots,” said Vice Mayor Everett Brock.
Alderman Billy Wood added, “I don’t want to do parking lots and sacrifice streets.”
Two weeks ago, city administrator David Rutherford suggested the board consider adding some sidewalks and fixing others. He encouraged that plan again.
“We have some sidewalks in disrepair and below standard,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford says the sidewalks on West Main Street are narrow and have utility poles in the middle, which makes the sidewalk almost useless. He would like to have the poles removed and the utility lines placed underground so the sidewalks could be used for walking.
A section of Sparta Street is an area in need of a sidewalk.
“If you visit Sparta Street, you will see we have quite a few people who traverse that street going to the mall,” said Rutherford. “There’s no sidewalk and you are just waiting for someone to get hit. It would be nice if we were able to do something, at least on one side.”
When questioned about how the debt service payment could be paid, Rutherford says he has identified $180,000 in the general fund budget to pay the annual payment. The city has to pay only on the money it uses and only after the money is used. Any portion not used can be returned.
Originally under consideration was borrowing $4 million for streets, parking lots and sidewalks. Debt service payment would be approximately $400,000 a year. That measure did not garner much support.
“I make a motion we move forward and borrow $4 million,” said Wood. “If you get cold feet, you can pull the plug at $2 million and send the rest of the money back.”
Silence was the only response.
“You can word that any way you want to,” he said to city recorder Shirley Durham. “It doesn’t look like we will be getting a second.”
When his prognosis came true, Wood added, “My motion failed due to lack of a second.”
None of the $2 million loan for streets was earmarked for parking lot paving or sidewalk installation. Using a variable rate, debt service payments will be around $200,000 a year for 12 years.